Law for Experts: What You Need to Know to Succeed, February 29–March 1, 2024, San Diego, CA

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Law for Experts: What You Need To Know To Succeed “connects the dots” shows experts how a practical understanding of law, procedure and legal terminology will make them markedly more effective and successful. This is a lively and intense interactive course. We have carefully condensed a huge body of knowledge into a very manageable program, thus allowing experts to learn what they need to know about the legal system. Experts will learn how to think and speak like the lawyers who retain them. Common “legalese” will be made comprehensible and experts will learn the procedural and substantive laws which impact them and govern legal disputes including: civil procedure, discovery, trial practice, causes of action, affirmative defenses, evidence, contracts, negligence, Daubert/Frye and the legal rules and concepts most relevant to expert witnessing. 

Registration/Tuition/Discounts: Tuition is $1,395 on or before January 5, 2024, $1,495 January 6, 2024 – February 6, 2024; and $1,595 after February 6, 2024. Your tuition includes continental breakfast and lunch with faculty each day and a detailed conference manual. Group discounts are available for two or more persons registering together from the same employer. Discount prices depend on the size of the group. Our programs can also be brought onsite to your organization either virtually or in-person. Please call 508-457-1111. A special 50% discount is available on one new or renewal standard listing in the SEAK Expert Witness Directory placed by attendees during the seminars. A stream on-demand version of this course is also available, please visit for more information. 

Location/Hotel Accommodations: The room block at The Hilton San Diego Harbor Island has expired. To book a room outside the block, please visit A list of alternative nearby hotels is below. The Hilton San Diego Harbor Island is located near the airport and is situated on San Diego Bay. Guest rooms enjoy scenic views of the marina, Bay and downtown San Diego skyline. The Hilton San Diego Harbor Island features ideal proximity to the city’s most popular attractions including the Midway, Gaslamp Quarter, Sea World, and the Zoo. The hotel is within walking distance of fine dining options and features free airport shuttle, heated pool, free wifi, and a 24 hour gym. 

Cancellations: Conference cancellations received in writing on or before February 6, 2024 will receive a full refund. Conference cancellations received after February 6, 2024 will receive a full tuition credit. 

Alternative Nearby Hotels

   Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina
   1380 Harbor Island Drive
   San Diego, CA 92101
   From $229 per night
  .8 miles from site hotel

   Hampton Inn & Suites San Diego Airport Liberty Station
   2211 Lee Court
   San Diego, CA 92101
   From $175 per night

   2 miles from site hotel

   Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Airport-Liberty Station   
   2576 Laning Road
   San Diego, Ca 92106
   From $213 per night
   2.7 miles from site hotel

   Courtyard San Diego Airport/Liberty Station
   2592 Laning Road
   San Diego, CA 92106
   From $216 per night
   2.7 miles from site hotel

   Holiday Inn San Diego-Bayside
   4875 North Harbor Drive
   San Diego, CA 92106
   From $174 per night
   2.9 miles from site hotel


Continuing Education Credits:
Note: If your specialty does not appear below and you desire credits, please contact Karen Cerbarano (781-826-4974 or We can often obtain desired credits upon request, but unfortunately, obtaining some types of credits are not feasible. Please register early, as we can only apply for credits after your registration form has been received and it can take time to get the requested approvals back from the accrediting agencies. Accident Reconstructionists: SEAK will apply for credits through ACTAR upon written request at the time of registration. Accountants: State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. SEAK will provide each attendee with a certificate of attendance. Appraisers: Credits from The American Society of Appraisers will be applied for on written request at the time of registration. Attorneys: Credit varies by state. Continuing legal education credits for attorneys will be applied for if requested in writing at the time of registration. Engineers: 14 PDHs. The acceptance of this course is dependent upon your state(s) of registration. The vast majority of states do not require preapproval of either courses or course sponsors. Life Care Planners: SEAK will apply for credits through The Commission on Health Care Certification (CHCC) upon written request at the time of registration. Physicians: SEAK, Inc. is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. SEAK, Inc. designates this live activity for a maximum of 14 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

NOTE: SEAK does not accept commercial support for its programs and does not use faculty members with conflicts of interest. 


donovan.jpgNadine Nasser Donovan, Esq., is SEAK’s Lead Onsite Trainer. She has trained countless experts via SEAK’s scheduled courses, customized on-site expert witness training programs, and one-on-one consulting. Nadine previously practiced litigation for 21 years. She spent 18 years in the defense of medical professionals in medical malpractice actions and before medical licensing boards. Nadine started off her legal career in New York City, first as a prosecutor in Queens, and then as counsel for the City of New York. Nadine received her J.D. cum laude from Boston College Law School. She graduated from Fordham University summa cum laude with a B.A. in French Literature. She can be contacted at 617-791-4282 or 

seak-speakercircles-may2023-clearwater-wilbur.jpgKelly J. Wilbur, Esq., is an expert witness trainer and consultant for SEAK, Inc. She has assisted and taught numerous expert witnesses through SEAK seminars and one-on-one training. She was an insurance defense and commercial litigator for five years where she regularly worked with and against expert witnesses in wrongful death, personal injury, premises liability, construction defect and patent cases. Kelly received her J.D., cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts School of Law and graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a B.A. in Political Science. She may be contacted at 781-491-6802 or 


Day 1: Thursday, February 29, 2024


8:00–9:30 AM Fundamentals of the American Legal System
Attendees will learn how the legal system they are supporting really works. Faculty will discuss the relationship between state and federal constitutional law, statutory and administrative law, state and local law, and common law. Attendees will also learn how appeals work and how administrative law disputes are adjudicated. Experts will also gain a working understanding of preemption, binding authority, persuasive authority, and how to distinguish case law. Questions & Answers 

9:30–10:15 AM Thinking Like a Lawyer, Part I—Elements of a Cause of Action
Attendees will learn how to “think like a lawyer” by breaking down a potential cause of action into its component elements. The faculty will explain how important it is for experts to understand how he/she fits into retaining lawyer’s case and which elements of a cause of action the expert is and is not opining on. Questions & Answers 


10:30–11:15 AM Thinking Like a Lawyer, Part II—Affirmative Defenses
Attendees will learn how lawyers are taught to defend against causes of action that can otherwise be successfully proven by the plaintiff. Experts will learn how some of the most common and important of these defenses work and how these defenses are relevant to their role as an expert witness in a case, including statutes of limitations, contributory and comparative negligence, assumption of the risk, workers’ compensation exclusivity, charitable immunity, and sovereign immunity. Questions & Answers 

11:15 AM–12:00 PM The Law of Negligence
Experts are often retained for cases alleging negligence. In addition, experts can be subjected to claims for negligence stemming from their work as an expert or other professional and personal activities. In this section, attendees will learn the four elements of negligence, the expert’s role in proving, defending, and mitigating negligence claims, and why attorneys in negligence cases often need the opinions of several expert witnesses. Questions & Answers 


12:45–1:35 PM Damages, Valuing Cases, and the Economics of a Lawsuit
Proving or defeating a claim of damages is critical to the success of a case, and lawyers often call upon expert witnesses to assist in this regard. In this section, attendees will learn the types of permissible damages allowed under tort and contract law, including compensatory damages, medical and emotional damages, economic damages, expectation damages, consequential damages, future damages (including future lost wages and future lost earnings and sales projections), and punitive damages. Attendees will also learn how a lawyer uses the measure of damages to value cases. We will discuss how attendees can add value to these cases and recognize and seek out the highest value cases such that they can charge a premium amount for their expert services and take the time necessary to do their highest-level work. Questions & Answers 

1:35–2:15 PM Anatomy of a Lawsuit
Attendees will learn what actually happens behind the scenes in a lawsuit and why it happens. This insight is extremely helpful to the expert witness in understanding counsel’s expectations, as well as the timing, context, and meaning of the expert witness’ participation in the case. Included will be a discussion of complaints, answers, affirmative defenses, discovery motions, summary judgment, motions to dismiss, remedies, and appeals. Questions & Answers 

2:15–3:00 PM Liability Insurance
Insurance has a huge effect on how many types of litigation are conducted and resolved. Expert witnesses need a working knowledge of how liability insurance works in the context of a lawsuit. Such knowledge will assist the expert in his work as an expert witness, and also in his own personal and professional risk management. Specific topics covered in this section include how to read and understand an insurance policy, the meaning of key clauses in liability insurance contracts, the duty to indemnify, the control of the defense, cooperation clauses, bad faith actions, exclusions, policy limits and the key differences between occurrence and claims made policies. Questions & Answers 


3:15–4:15 PM The Law of Contracts
Expert witnesses are often retained in cases involving contractual rights or issues. In this section experts will learn the law of contract formation, breach, defenses, and important contract clauses that materially affect the rights of parties. Experts will also learn how lawyers use experts to prove the existence of legally recognized contract defenses and damages, which contracts needs to be in writing, and how courts interpret oral, implied, express, and written contracts. Questions & Answers 

4:15–5:00 PM The Discovery Process and Avoiding Discovery Abuse
The discovery process typically eats up most of the time and money in a lawsuit. In this section, attendees will learn the legally permissible rules that govern the scope of discovery. Attendees will also learn the various methods attorneys use within this process to maximize their advantage, including interrogatories, requests for production of documents, depositions, subpoenas duces tecum, physical examinations, and requests for admissions. Included will be a discussion of specific discovery scenarios that make experts vulnerable to potential attorney abuse of this process and how experts can “fight back”. Questions & Answers 

DAY TWO: Friday, March 1, 2024


7:00–7:45 AM Legal Requirements for Expert Witness Report Writing
Attendees will learn what is legally required for expert witness report writing, including expressing expert opinions clearly, confidently, and with supporting rationale. The discussion will also include preparing Rule 26 reports for federal court, and the specific legal rules that govern what must be included in those expert witness reports. Questions & Answers 

7:45–8:30 AM The Law of Depositions: In Depth
In this section, attendees will learn the ins and outs of the law of depositions, including the types of question they can be expected to face, the role of retaining counsel, what attorney stipulations and objections mean, who is likely to attend their deposition, the rules governing reading and signing, when expert depositions can and cannot occur, the permissible length of depositions, the rules regarding payment of the expert’s fee, how to deal with abusive questioning, and the special considerations that exist during video depositions. Questions & Answers 


8:45–10:00 AM Daubert and the 700 Series of Rules Dealing With Expert Witnesses
Attendees will learn the laws that govern how and why a person is qualified to testify as an expert witness, the strategies attorneys use to prevent expert witnesses from testifying at trial, including the use of Daubert/Frye motions, and additional expert testimony rules that govern both the types of facts and data that experts can rely upon in forming their opinion, as well as the types of opinions that experts should and should not offer. Questions & Answers 


10:15–11:00 AM What Happens At a Civil Trial
This section covers the key aspects of a civil trial, including the role of the judge, jury, fact witnesses and expert witnesses, as well as the legal maneuvers attorneys make during the trial which affect the presentation of expert testimony. Questions & Answers 

11:00 AM–12:00 PM What Can and Cannot Be Asked of an Expert Witness At Trial
Attendees will learn the role that the rules of evidence play in the presentation of evidence. Attendees will also learn how evidence rules such as relevance and unfair prejudice can limit what the jury hears even if the expert thinks the evidence is relevant. Attendees will further learn how these rules affect the kinds of questions attorneys can ask expert witnesses during direct and cross-examination. Questions & Answers 


12:45–1:15 PM The Hearsay Rule And How It Affects Expert Testimony
Attendees will learn the key aspects of the hearsay rule, how attorneys invoke the rule, and why hearsay rules do not apply at deposition but do apply at trial. Attendees will further learn how expert witnesses must keep these rules in mind when forming their opinions, expressing their opinions, determining what facts or statements on which they rely on and can base their opinions, and testifying at deposition and trial. Questions & Answers 

1:15–1:45 PM Jury Trials: What Experts Need To Know
This section will cover the rules governing the jury’s role in the case, and the specific legal rules, best practices and courtroom etiquette that govern an expert’s interaction with the jury. Questions & Answers 

1:45–2:30 PM Expert Witness Liability and Risk Management
Attendees will learn the traps for the unwary which can subject experts to criminal, civil and professional liability. Practical suggestions to avoid liability and manage risk will be provided. Questions & Answers 

What past attendees had to say:

“The content was very well organized and thoroughly explained. Good balance between lecture, class participation, and examples to demonstrate concepts taught.” 

“More helpful than any other training I’ve ever received, I think due in large part that it was so engaging and packed with great examples.” 

“EXCELLENT! Nadine is an outstanding instructor with a wealth of knowledge to share. I learned so much useful information. I could’ve listened to her for several more days!

She kept us all engaged and gave everyone her ear.” 

“Very informative”

“The program was extremely valuable for context and perspective on our litigated assignments.” 

“Amazing job! That was the best conference I have ever attended! (And being a doctor for 29 years, I have attended and spoken at a LOT of conferences).” 

“I really enjoyed listening to Mrs. Donovan. She was engaging and energetic.” 

“On the way home I wrote 8 full yellow-pad pages of action items from your class! It’ll probably take me a year to implement them!” 

“Well done! I will definitely take more courses from you in the future!” 

“Excellent! – lots of info presented in a short time.” 

“Great job. Quick moving and interesting.” 

“Great! Nadine was a dynamic speaker, the course book is well done.” 

“Nadine is awesome! Witty, smart, tough, engaging.” 

“Awesome! The best, [most] entertaining, informative and useful seminar I have ever attended. Essential information for the serious and credible expert. Should be a prerequisite for all experts.” 

“This was a fantastic, top-notch seminar.”  

“Nadine, Thank you.  Without a doubt the best training I've had in preparing myself for being an expert on the stand.  Your class was my first SEAK training, and I'll be back to more SEAK courses. I appreciate the legal background and experience you bring to teaching your class. I appreciate your support, and I hope to truly be a good objective, truthful, prepared witness.  I will certainly be much better because of the training I've had the last few days. I hope you have a great day and thank you again for sharing your experience and skill with us.”  

“Exceptional seminar. I attend continuing ed seminars regularly and this seminar was beyond all of those. It seemed that every word was productive.”  

“Thank you for such awesome training. I learned so much. A friend recommended the training and I’m so glad I came. See you next time.”  

“I thought the Conference was excellent – well-run and a huge amount of useful info – great speakers.”  

“The conference you directed was absolutely the best conference I have been to in many years, with a huge amount of practical, take-home information. Please feel free to use me as a reference, or if you need a testimonial, I’m very happy to provide one.”  

“Instruction not available from other sources.” 

“This was a fantastic, top-notch seminar.” 

“More helpful than any other training I’ve ever received, I think due in large part that it was so engaging and packed with great examples.” 

“The program was extremely valuable for context and perspective on our litigated assignments.”

“I really enjoyed listening to Mrs. Donovan. She was engaging and energetic.”